The ever-growing medical devices and solutions sector needs constant improvements and upgradation in technologies to adapt to the needs of patients in today’s world. One of several such developments in technology is the adoption of LED lights in medical devices and instruments, replacing the conventional ones. There are many obvious reasons for this change, and to understand it in a better way, we have tried to delve into the details of how and where LEDs are making the work of medical professionals easier and efficient. Read on to explore…
Lighting is an utmost necessity for humans, and today, we cannot even imagine living in a dark world. The lighting technology has come a long way from the days of incandescent bulbs and the advent of LED has paved the way for various diversified applications of the humble light bulb. The ease and flexibility that LED brings in lighting makes it the best choice for varied indoor and outdoor settings. We are observing a phenomenal uptake of LED lights in all kinds of spaces, from residential to professional, to hospitality and industrial establishments. Not just this! LED lighting has also penetrated various other industries, where some developments have been made possible by the benefits offered by this technology. One of the several examples is the vital medical equipment segment, which keeps reinventing itself to adapt to the needs of time.
Factors such as safety, low levels of heat emission, durability and flexibility have made the adoption of LEDs really easy in this extremely crucial segment. Manufacturers of medical equipment have developed new LED-based applications that were previously unthinkable, but have been made possible due to simple, flawless integration with LED lights. This technology has improved significantly over the years, and is currently being used in surgical lighting, examination lights, phototherapy and endoscopy. In India, some of the leading players of this segment include Siemens Healthineers, GE, Dräger India, Rajas Enterprises (India), Meditech (India) AtmosMedizinTechnik (India), Narang Medical Limited, Radical India, among others. LED World Team tried contacting their representatives, but to no avail as there wasn’t any response.
In this article, we then decided to focus on numerous applications in the world of medicine that use LEDs for diagnosis and treatment. The applications of LED light in medical equipment industry can be divided under some heads such as surgical lights, scanners, examination lights, phototherapy, light cubes, endoscopes, etc.
Surgical lights offer high lux and targeted illumination for various surgical applications. Keeping in mind that time and accuracy are of essence in surgical procedures, it is imperative that the efficiency of lighting systems is very high. The controls of lighting equipment should be simple and quick, with a high degree of operational competence. The interface should be smooth in both fixed and movable lights.
LED surgical lights produce a high-intensity white light with a high colour temperature for optimum visibility and illumination. This reduces eye strain and mental fatigue of the surgical staff, promoting high concentration and energy levels at all times during medical procedures.
Germany-based Dräger manufactures medical and safety technology products. The company offers surgical lights under brand name Polaris®. There are two variants available – Polaris 100/200 and Polaris 600. The former is a premium surgical light with sterilisable handle, light intensity of up to 160,000 lux, three different colour temperatures (4,400K, 5,000K, 5,600K), endolight with 300 lux, three selectable light-field diameters, and also comes with a mobile version. The Polaris 600 has additional features like four different and changeable colour temperatures (3,800K, 4,400K, 5,000K, 5,600K), HD camera integrated into the light head with wireless transmission, colour-coded light system, integrated OR interface for third party control, endolight with 3,000 lux and ergonomic handle for easy manoeuvrability.
India-based Narang Medical Limited is one of the leading manufacturers& suppliers of medical equipment, surgical instruments and hospital supplies. Its surgical lighting equipment includes a wide range of examination lamps, mobile shadow-less operation lamps and ceiling shadow-less surgical lights, which are available in LED as well as with Halogen Bulbs. The lights are available under two series, Apple and Orange, with options such as Ceiling Mounted LED Shadow-less Operation Lamps, Ceiling Mounted LED Surgical Light (Dual-Arm), LED Mobile Surgical Light with three lamps, Operation Lamps with single reflector, and Ceiling Shadow-less OT Light Single Dome with several bulbs. There is also an option of choosing mobile surgical lights with castors for minor surgical procedures.
Meditech India is another key player in surgical lights segment and offers 2nd generation LED surgical lights with powerful illumination. They provide cool and shadow-less lighting solutions for long, time-taking surgeries. The options include – LED Surgical Light Elite 7050, LED Surgical Lighting &Visualisation System, pedestal medical lights, and various models of ceiling and mobile operation lights. For better visualisation and distinguishing between small tissues, these lights are equipped with multi-colour LED combinations that make it possible to adjust the colour temperature, as per the needs of the surgeons. They offer excellent manoeuvrability and are easy to disinfect and handle.
Radical India manufactures special lighting devices called D-Light Micro and D-Light Micro-XL Headlights. These surgical LED headlamps are small in size but offer highly bright light, while providing optimal ergonomic comfort. The portable head-lights, meant for micro surgeries, provide true colour and long lasting illumination, while allowing free movement and flexibility in usage. The cool light, developed specifically for medical professionals have a cooling system that ensures the lamp does not get too hot to touch.
These lights are different from surgical lights in the sense that they are usually mobile in order to allow the doctor or an examiner to direct them onto the affected body part. They come with castors and offer high level of illumination for clear visibility. Meditech India offers a technologically advanced range of examination lights that uninterruptedly performs in required conditions. The lights have longer service life, durability and anti-rust coating. They also provide customisation, and can design the light as per clients’ requirements. Their products include spot-cum-examination lights with options such as floor chrome base, floor plastic base and wall mount.
Rajas Medical is one of the noted manufacturers and exporters of examination lights. Its range includes various models of both halogen and LED lights, with battery backup. The company has ISO quality specifications for all its products, catering to the varied needs of surgeons and general physicians. The company claims these lights to be lightweight with high illumination effects and low watt consumption. The LED examination lights have battery backup of 1-2 hours after full charging, a polypropylene base with five spokes, plastic wheels that are easy to rotate on floor, stands made of black powder-coated finish M.S. pipe with handle to rotate the head,; and a flexible arm for easy movement of the light at any angle as per user requirement.
German medical equipment major ATMOS offers an ENT microscope called i-View 21/31 ENT that features a patented technique in which the red part of a high performance LED light is raised and a pleasant colour temperature of 5500 K (+/- 10%) is achieved without applying a thermal charge to the examined tissue through IR radiation. Based on LED illumination, the complete optical system offers high quality colour correction and HD quality that results in sharp and clear pictures.
Phototherapy is a special light treatment that uses a lamp to remove excess bilirubin from the body. It is used to treat jaundice in newborns by reducing the bilirubin levels in the baby’s blood through a process called photo-oxidation. In this, the body is exposed to light. Nowadays, LED bulbs are used to provide light therapy in these units.
In the field of jaundice management, Dräger offers non-invasive solutions for early detection of bilirubin and for the treatment of neonatal hyper bilirubinemia in newborn babies. Its BiliLux is a compact and lightweight LED phototherapy light system for the treatment of neonatal unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia. The unit has electronic documentation capabilities and the flexibility for seamless integration. The phototherapy light includes 20 blue lights that provide therapy and two white lights used for observation or softening the blue light.
Rajas also offers phototherapy units double surface that combines under-surface and overhead units. It features six white light tubes with the facility to use four or six tubes at a time, four blue + two white tubes in overhead unit, giving choice to use two kinds of tubes. The four blue light tubes have higher intensity of light in therapeutic range.
GE Healthcare too provides advanced phototherapy systems for jaundice management. Its BiliSoft provides intensive phototherapy while supporting developmental and family-centered care. It claims to offer increased surface area, high spectral irradiance, and long-lasting blue, narrow-band LED light. The LED module used in BiliSoft has an estimated life of about 8,000-10,000 hrs before intensity drops 25%. GE has another solution in its phototherapy portfolio called Lullaby LED that delivers high-intensity therapy to treat this potentially hazardous condition. It featured long-lasting LED lamps rated to last up to 50,000 hours at high power with 30% lumen depreciation. Its power consumption is 20W, which is up to 80% less than CFL phototherapy systems.
Narang too offers phototherapy units in both CFL and LED versions under its Apple and Orange series of medical solutions. The units under Apple series are available in following variants – 16 therapeutic high wattage blue LEDs with dimming facility, 12 therapeutic high wattage blue LEDs of 3W each and 8 high wattage blue LEDs. The units are also installed with differing numbers of white LEDs for observation purposes. All models feature dual digital cumulative hour timer for LED usage and patient exposure. Under the Orange series, it offers a couple of variants of infant phototherapy units equipped with both fluorescent and LED lights.
In endoscopy, a doctor uses special instruments to observe and operate on internal organs of the body. It is a non-invasive procedure using which the surgeons can diagnose and treat a problem inside a patient’s body without making any large incisions. The endoscope is inserted through a small cut or a natural opening in the body. It is a flexible tube with an attached camera and a light that allows the surgeon to see inside the body. There are several types of endoscopes such as bronchoscope colonoscope, laparoscope etc., meant for viewing different body parts.
In order to effectively integrate the light into a fiber bundle, an extremely bright light source is required. Earlier, 180 to 300 W xenon lamps were used, which could deliver 1,000+ lumens of light at the distal end of the fiber bundle. Though it was able to deliver good results, the short life of about 1,000 hours turned out to be very expensive. Thus, LEDs started replacing these lights.
ATMOS has a varied portfolio of endoscopy instruments. Its ATMOS Scope is a slightly different version of the regular endoscope as it is equipped with an ergonomically-designed handle that makes it easy to operate and insert inside patient’s body. It is integrated with an LED light source, camera and microphone; and enables networking with the ATMOS Cam, the ATMOS Strobo 21 LED and a video monitor. The company also manufactures LED-based stroboscopy (vocal cord diagnosis) system. The technology has made possible soundless stroboscopy with a flicker-less pilot light, standing image and slow motion mode.
ATMOS also delivers an endoscopy module (optional with LED technology) suitable for minimal space requirements. It offers excellent light quality and its compact design makes it fit for ambulances and small outpatient departments. It includes an ATMOS Light Cube with a light intensity of minimum 195 klux, double LED light source, automatic switching and system integration.
Another key player in this industry, Olympus too delivers high quality endoscpopy solutions such as its miniature light source called EndoLED that delivers optimum white light with excellent colours. It features a battery status indicator that shows green for fully charged, yellow for partially discharged and flashing yellow for fully discharged. It is able to maintain a colour temperature like Xenon light owing to the careful selection of LEDs.
Its Storobe LED CLL-S1, a noise-free stroboscopy light source, is a compact table-top box. The latest LED technology inside the light source results in excellent image quality and consistency. It can be adjusted for more brightness or more sharpness, depending on the indication and requirements. There are two light modes in this – permanent and stroboscopic. Within the stroboscopic mode, the fixed phase mode views frozen images and the slow motion mode views the movement of the vocal folds slowed down. The options for a higher level of brightness both in permanent and strobe mode support users in improving the accuracy. The inclusion of optimised colour temperature from well-selected LEDs leads to a higher contrast for stroboscopy compared to halogen light sources. With no bulb exchanges required for at least 2,000 hours of use, the StrobeLED results in low maintenance costs.
Amongst several other high quality solutions offered by ATMOS, there is another interesting product called LED Light Cube. It is meant for those spaces where all instruments are not integrated in an examination unit and creates operational difficulties. To address this issue, LED Light Cube can be used as a tabletop device and can be placed on any unit at any time. It features LED technology which delivers an impressive light source in daylight quality. According to the company, it has an excellent light performance comparable to 250W halogen.
What Lies Ahead?
LEDs are slowly becoming the primary light source for medical applications because of their high lux, energy efficiency, durability and low heat emission. It is possible to easily integrate arrays of high-powered LEDs or multi-chip modules into a variety of medical devices and instruments. However, at present, the LED technology has still not taken over other sources of lighting in medical instruments industry. Most players are offering products & solutions based on CFLs, Xenon and LEDs, while users have the option to choose. However, these are constantly compared to other possible sources of illumination and it is still a long way to go for LEDs to capture the market in its entirety.
In medical procedures, performance requirements are very demanding and the light needs to be the most efficient as it is often a matter of life and death, and absolute precision is required! Thus, what is crucial is improvement in light intensity, size and weight of the product, flexibility and easy management of temperature and colour. With constant enhancements, it is likely that there will be an increased adoption of the technology in near future.